The Test (Maupassant)

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The Test
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A husband, suspecting his wife of infidelity, invited her former friend to their home, hoping to gauge their reactions. Upon their reunion, the wife's emotional response confirmed the husband's suspicions.

A retired tradesman named Bondel lived in a small cottage in Saint Germain with his wife. They often quarreled over trivial matters but always reconciled.

Bondel — retired tradesman; middle-aged, distinguished appearance, going a little grey; reasonable, logical, and practical.
Mme. Bondel — Bondel's wife; passionate, frank, obstinate, and vindictive; formerly pretty, now plump and highly colored.

One day, Bondel asked his wife about their neighbors, the couple living in the red cottage. His wife refused to befriend them, claiming that the husband was a cuckold and everyone was talking about it.

Well, your gentleman is a cuckold, that’s what!

Bondel argued that it was not the husband's fault if his wife was unfaithful, and they had a heated argument.

You? You! Why, you’re as stupid as any of them, do you hear?

Later, Bondel met the neighbor and they discussed their wives. The neighbor mentioned that his wife seemed more intimate with their friends than with him. This made Bondel suspicious and he decided to test his wife's loyalty by bringing an old friend, Tancret, whom she had fallen out with, to their house for dinner.

Tancret — former friend of Mme. Bondel; cautious and surprised by the sudden reunion.

Bondel went to Paris to find Tancret and convinced him to come to dinner, assuring him that his wife had forgiven him. They returned to Saint Germain, both nervous about the upcoming confrontation. When Mme. Bondel saw Tancret, she blushed and hesitated before extending her hands to him. As they clasped hands, she told him she was glad to see him again.

Oh, my dear! I am so glad.

Bondel, watching the scene, felt a cold chill run through his body, realizing that his wife might have been unfaithful to him with Tancret.